Calif. School Superintendent Blames His ‘Poor Judgment’ for Allowing Class Speaker to Dress in Blackface

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The superintendent of a Northern California Christian school is apologizing after his decision to allow a chapel speaker to dress in blackface as part of a elementary school presentation sparked outrage among parents and students.

Superintendent John Huffman, who heads Victory Christian School in Carmichael, has apologized for his “poor judgment” and insisted the presentation “was in no way meant to be hurtful or disrespectful. … I ask forgiveness from those who have been hurt by this.”

Victory Christian School Black Face
The class speaker wanted to resemble the character she was playing and sought to bring “authenticity to the role” by darkening her skin, superintendent John Huffman said. (Images courtesy of Fox 40)

The incident unfolded last Thursday when a chapel speaker dressed up as a Central African woman for a presentation on British missionary David Livingstone and his work in late 19th century Africa, local station Fox 40 reported. Photos from the presentation showed the speaker wearing traditional African garb and headdress with her face and body covered in dark brown makeup.

Huffman said the speaker sought to resemble the character she was portraying and thought that darkening her skin tone would bring “authenticity to her role.” Parents at the school couldn’t disagree more, however, and voiced frustration over the fact that such an offensive practice was allowed in a school environment.

News of the incident also drew angry reactions on social media.

“I’m done,” one Twitter user wrote. “Really, it’s 2019. How can you think this is a good idea?”

A user who claimed to be a former Victory Christian student wrote, “I know how much bs this school has gotten away with, especially when I went there. This isn’t anything new. This school and it’s staff is a pathetic joke for Christianity and for setting good morals.”

The very next day, Huffman sent a latter home apologizing for what had happened.

“I was wrong to allow the use of makeup no matter how innocent the intentions as it has offended some of my students and parents,” he wrote in part. “I should have anticipated that this could be offensive, and I’ve apologized to my students and parents asking to be forgiven for hurting them.”

In addition to his apology, Huffman said he plans on having open discussions on racial sensitivity.

Watch more in the video below.

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